Mastering the craft

May 1, 2017

Jerry Margrave keeps his company on track by staying on top of industry skills, technology and opportunities to solve customer problems. “Every time the phone rings we have a new opportunity to see how we can help somebody,” says Jerry Margrave, MFC, owner of Specialty Trim & Awning Inc., Bakersfield, Calif. “That’s the way we …

Bring it on

March 1, 2017

Jacob Schwartz navigates the design and construction process by leveraging group strengths, examining all options and committing to long-term solutions for clients. “Without exception, the more—and earlier—we are engaged in the design process, the more successful the fabric application becomes,” says Jacob Schwartz, owner and director of engineering and construction for International Tension Structures (ITS), Phoenix, …

Members Only  

Green glamping

February 17, 2017

Eco-friendly glamping structures designed to keep Mother Nature smiling. Glamping brings together the best of two worlds—all the splendor Mother Nature has to offer in posh, elegant accommodations. As if that weren’t enough, glamping structures are usually designed with fabrics that blend into the surroundings that leave less of a footprint to challenge the environment. …

Members Only  

Glamp it up

February 1, 2017

The growing glamping trend brings together comfort and the great outdoors-whether for a weekend getaway or as a way of life.  Glamorous camping—aka glamping—is more than camping for people who want a weekend in nature but don’t want the challenges that come with being outdoors. Glamping is fabric at its best. It’s soft shadows that …

The buck starts here

Chris Ritsema leads his company by building a strong culture that encourages growth and success for his employees. My vision has always been to grow a company that empowers its employees,” says Chris Ritsema, owner of Canvas Innovations in Holland, Mich. “I want to give people a reason to stay here and build their careers—and …

Sustainable Opportunity

January 1, 2017

Eric and Angie Riggins create new products and capture new markets to ensure a steady stream of work throughout the year.  We’re always looking for opportunities to grow the business,” says Angie Riggins, co-owner of Alpha Canvas, Charlotte, N.C. “We have to be innovative to set ourselves apart from our competitors—we find ways to meet …

Analyze this

December 1, 2016

Ed Skrzynski automates production, encourages teamwork and documents processes to deliver quality marine and shade products. There is a common thread with custom manufacturing—it’s very labor-intensive, very expensive and typically done by artisans and skilled trades people,” says Ed Skrzynski, owner of Marco Canvas, Marco Island, Fla. “When I took over the company from my …

Scheduled Evolution

October 31, 2016

Eric Heischmidt approaches project management with flexibility and an architect’s eye for precision. “Project management means planning ahead,” says Eric Heischmidt, senior project manager, Arizon Structures, St. Louis, Mo. “But more than anything it means being prepared to be flexible, because every project is an evolution. Things change, and you need to react to those …

Members Only  

What’s happening to the military textile market

October 1, 2016

Decreased budgets are a reality, but markets exist for new and innovative products. While it’s fair to say that portions of the military textile market are shrinking—the U.S. now has far fewer troops overseas—it is also true that some segments are changing, which is an open door for innovation. Despite a decline in the U.S. Department …

Pete Weingartner builds a team to deliver turn-key projects and target continued growth

Even if projects are going well I try to improve them. I want to find a way to do things better; to do things faster,” says , president of Queen City Awning, Cincinnati, Ohio. “One of the ways I do that is by attending IFAI Expo and reading Specialty Fabrics Review magazine to keep up …

Members Only  

The future workforce

A Makers completed curriculum and a nationally registered apprenticeship program are in the final approval stages. The next generation of skilled sewers is in the works. Textile manufacturers need sewers. People entering the workforce need jobs that can lead to fulfilling careers. So why has it been so challenging to bring the two together? What …

Members Only  

Bob Koerner has devoted more than 40 years to geosynthetics industry

When Dr. Robert M. Koerner talks about geosynthetics, the cadence of his speech quickens and the passion behind his words suggests that geotextiles, geosynthetic clay liners, geomembranes and geogrids (to name a few) could quite possibly be the most exciting materials civil engineers have at their disposal. As a leader in the field of geosynthetics, …

Blair Belluomo brings a strong and appreciative management style to the family business

September 1, 2016

I went to school with many kids whose parents had businesses, and they thought that just because their parents ran a successful business, they could just step in and be successful as well,” says Blair Belluomo, owner and president of Belle Isle Awning in Roseville, Mich. “So many of them failed because they hadn’t had other …

The Third Dimension

August 1, 2016

John Bland revolutionizes marine fabrication by applying 3-D CAD principles to the design process. Look at the motor industry—you wouldn’t be happy driving a car that was spec’d 20 years ago,” says John Bland, managing director of Tecsew Ltd., Gosport, Hampshire, U.K. “It’s the same in the textile industry. Whether it’s in the finish, materials …

Fabric engineering

June 29, 2016

Ben Fox expands design capabilities for fabric structures, focusing on innovation and education to solve customer problems. “Our company’s roots are unique in that we started out as a construction service and kind of worked our way backward into manufacturing,” says Ben Fox, owner, president and CEO of Legacy Building Solutions, South Haven, Minn. “That’s …

Members Only  

Streamlining standards

Compromise and collaboration are key to revising standards that improve textile product safety. The road to revised standards can be bumpy, fraught with lively discussions and detailed (some might say “picky”) decisions. The standards, some enforceable and some voluntary, guide material and product manufacturers through the complex world of creating safe and functional products. Hundreds, …

Tents, trends and technology

June 1, 2016

From RFID to GPS, Mike Holland uses all the newest tools to keep Chattanooga Tent Co. at the leading edge. “We embrace technology here,” says Mike Holland, president of Chattanooga Tent Co., Chattanooga, Tenn. “Especially when it comes to material handling, we’re always looking for anything that can help us work smarter and be more …

At the intersection of textiles & technology

May 1, 2016

Qaizar Hassonjee mines market opportunities and forms partnerships to bring smart fabrics to market. “The intersection of textiles and technology is a huge untapped opportunity for the textile industry,” says Qaizar Hassonjee, senior director, business development and partnerships, for adidas Digital Sports. “Market segments such as hospitality, health care and military are really prime for …

Members Only  

Innovation on the water

April 1, 2016

Adding comfort, performance, style and durability to boats, inside and out, through the advantages of the latest marine textiles. Sun and water are the iconic companions of leisure and recreation. (Think lounging on a boat, salty sea spray misting your face, sun warming your skin … ) But if you’re a marine fabricator, those same …

Members Only  

Ideas in harness

Michael Lester doesn’t shy away from a challenge. He builds a team of fellow innovators and comes up with tensioned fabric solutions. “We’re always innovating,” says Michael Lester, managing director of MakMax Australia Pty. Ltd. in Brisbane, Australia, a world-renowned company building custom membrane structures and manufacturing a range of shade products. “We’ve always got …

Members Only  

Envision, build, repeat

March 1, 2016

Michael Catalano treats his clients as strategic partners—and that keeps them coming back. “We have a saying here: It’s not about the first job. It’s about the next job,” says Michael Catalano, CEO of Capitol Awning Co., Jamaica, N.Y. “And probably 90 percent or more of our work ends up being repeat business.” Michael Catalano …

Fabric on the frontier

February 1, 2016

Eric Walton and Devlin Mckee bring fabric solutions to Alaska’s wild and wondrous terrain. “The remote area where we work can be a challenge so we have to be flexible and willing to do lots of different things,” say Eric Walton, MFC, and Devlin McKee, CC, owners of Custom Canvas Alaska (CCA) in Fairbanks, Alaska. …

Charting a course

December 1, 2015

Incoming IFAI board chair Katie Bradford takes the helm, using business expertise and networking know-how to lead the association. “I believe good leadership encourages participation and embraces differences,” says Katie Bradford, MFC, IFM, incoming chair of the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) and owner and president of Custom Marine Canvas, Noank, Conn. “IFAI membership is …

Members Only  

Members make the industry

November 1, 2015

As the Specialty Fabrics Review turns 100, we honor the members, readers and contributors who help keep the industry a strong and evolving economic force. For 100 years the Review has been the voice of the specialty fabrics industry—but it is the members of IFAI who helped to create and have supported that voice; it …

Members Only  

Demand + supply = prevail

October 1, 2015

Robert Cole brings decades of experience and common sense to the time-honored but always evolving economic model of supply and demand. One of the great things this industry has to offer is the quality of its suppliers,” says Robert Cole, IFAI Honored Life Member (HLM) and owner of Goodwin-Cole, Sacramento, Calif. “They’ve kept our industry …

No fear

September 1, 2015

Per Lindstrand sees obstacles as stepping stones as he develops new methods and products for fabric engineering. Never be afraid to stick your head out. I’d rather have my head slapped one time too many than too little,” says aeronautical engineer Per Lindstrand, founder and president of Lindstrand Technologies, Oswestry, U.K. “You get nowhere unless …

What to wear to Mars

Requirements for space garments share similarities with those worn on Earth. For human space missions beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO), the logistical burden is at least twice as great as that of missions in low-Earth orbit. Take, for instance, a trip to Mars, which is being planned by NASA to occur sometime in the 2030s. For …

Keeping it cool in space

August 1, 2015

Specialized textiles play an important role in thermal control for an evolving aerospace marketplace. Where there are flights, space missions and satellites, there are advanced textiles. For composites used in aircraft engines, multi-layer insulation (MLI) blankets for launch support and satellites, or—of course—space wear for participants of manned space exploration, textiles and textile components are …

Members Only  

Selling shade

Conrad Masterson builds his business by focusing on what clients really want—and what employees need. “The first thing I learned when I entered the shade sail industry was to focus on what the customer really wants,” says Conrad Masterson, president of SHADE Industries, Phoenix, Ariz. “That may sound simple, but it can be easy to …

Members Only  

Beyond the competition

July 1, 2015

Patty and Charly Smail build their business by learning from each new customer—and finding gaps in what the competition offers. We’ve always been service-oriented people. That’s our style,” says Patty Smail, president of Shelter Structures Inc. in Philadelphia, Pa. “We wanted to find markets where they valued quality over price and where we could provide …

Members Only  

Transforming urban areas with fabric

May 18, 2015

Cities are pouring money into urban revitalization in an attempt to restore downtowns to their former vibrant glory, and many of those renewal designs are featuring shade structures, awnings and exterior shades, fused with the best of historic architecture. And in addition to providing shade and shelter from the elements, they also act as important …

Members Only  

Energy for the future

March 1, 2015

Flexible and durable power-generating textiles are poised to make a difference in meeting tomorrow’s energy requirements. Looking forward, before imagination meets prototype, the next generation of energy-producing products seems unattainable. Looking backward, after such innovations are readily available, the development process seems logical—and simple. It’s the “hindsight is 20/20” phenomenon. While photovoltaic power-harvesting technologies are …

Members Only  

Energy for the future

Flexible and durable power-generating textiles are poised to make a difference in meeting tomorrow’s energy requirements. Looking forward, before imagination meets prototype, the next generation of energy-producing products seems unattainable. Looking backward, after such innovations are readily available, the development process seems logical—and simple. It’s the “hindsight is 20/20” phenomenon. While photovoltaic power-harvesting technologies are …

Good better best

Charles Webster uses lean techniques to continuously improve production and efficiency. What we try to do better than other companies is give our customers more than they ask for, sooner than they expect it, in higher quality than they’re used to,” says Charles Webster, president and CEO of DOWCO® Inc., Manitowoc, Wis. “When we are …

Trendsetter

February 1, 2015

Vern Schaefer is what is known as an “early adopter,” trying new equipment as soon as it’s available. As he transitions company leadership to his daughter, he’s still setting trends. “I don’t believe in being locked into one way of doing things,” says Vernon Schaefer, MFC, CEO of Glawe Awnings & Tents, Fairborn, Ohio. “If …

Rest stops on the road to success

January 1, 2015

David Snoad implements systems and empowers employees so his business can flourish—and he can take a vacation. “I’ve been away six months of this calendar year and we’re about to have our most profitable year ever,” says David Snoad, managing director of Pinz Pty. Ltd., Seaton, Australia. “Because of my time away, I’m more productive …

Everything’s connected

December 1, 2014

Mr. Sadao Izumi moves the tent industry forward—by keeping the big picture in mind. “There are two Japanese characters that make up the word ‘manage’—and these characters represent how interdependent the process of running a business is,” says Mr. Sadao Izumi, owner and president of Izumi Co. Ltd., Toyoma, Japan, and chairman of the Japan …

Members Only  

Makers on the move

November 1, 2014

The Makers Coalition and IFAI join forces to train— and place—a skilled workforce. Talk to just about any manufacturer of sewn products and you’ll hear the same thing: finding skilled sewers is one of the most difficult things about running this kind of business. Now, thanks to The Makers Coalition (TMC), Minneapolis, Minn., and its …

The human factors

Dr. Aris Makris and his team keep their sights on the end user when developing personal protective equipment for Soldiers. “A lot of the necessary skills for this job grow from being in contact with the end user community,” says Aris Makris, Ph.D., vice president of research and development (R&D) and CTO for Med-Eng in …

Members Only  

Reclaiming the industry

October 1, 2014

Overall trends in the once-again growing specialty fabrics industry. After years of struggles, there’s optimism in the U.S. textile industry. The recent recession took its toll, but growth was already flagging from increased off-shore production and a shrinking skilled workforce, among other things. While the textile industry is many faceted and complex, it’s safe to …

Boldly genuine

Bob Jacquart uses the “power of pluck” to expand his company and build a strong brand identity. “If you’re going to really ramp up your business you have to have that world of brand strategy experts look you over,” says Bob Jacquart, CEO of Jacquart Fabric Products Inc. (JFP) in Ironwood, Mich. “You have to …

Entrepreneur in action

September 1, 2014

Steve Frost advances his company by standardizing processes—and being willing to change. We try to develop best practices and focus on repeating them, which includes making lists and standardizing problems,” says Steve Frost, president of Stamford Tent & Event Services, Stamford, Conn. “But you can write all the forms you want—they’re not going to cover …

Members Only  

The next steps

June 1, 2014

Carol Racine takes on one challenge after another as she and her husband build a business and make plans for a sewing school. “I know my limitations—but I’m always challenging those limits,” says Carol Racine, president of Racine Design in Jacksonville, Fla. “I don’t let the fact that I haven’t done a certain type of …

Members Only  

Sharp focus, broad impact

April 1, 2014

Hal Lapping tightens his company’s focus to make quality products affordable. We remain focused on our core products, and because we stay focused we offer the best quality products at the most competitive prices,” says Hal Lapping, president of Economy Tent Intl. (an Anchor company), Miami. Fla. “And part of that mind set is that …

Members Only  

The healing textiles

March 1, 2014

Advancements in fiber development result in new and better applications for biomedical textiles. Biomedical textiles are one of the fastest growing segments in the textile industry, according to Dr. Martin King, professor of textiles at North Carolina State University (NCSU), and an expert in biotextiles. But what exactly are biomedical textiles? What’s driving development? And …

Military e-textiles

Creating textiles that harvest energy lighten the warfighter’s load. “Lightweight, wearable power is very desirable since it will replace some batteries, which add weight to the Soldier’s load,” says Dr. Eugene Wilusz, senior nuclear, biological, chemical scientist in the Warfighter Directorate, U.S. Army Natick Soldier RDE Center. “The key to future advancements is the development …

Members Only  

Positively powerful

Kisha Moldovan builds relationships with sincerity and enthusiasm to boost business and advance the industry. “I don’t think about other awning companies as competition or in any way as a negative, because the more people who are spreading the word about awnings, the more we all have an opportunity to be successful,” says Kisha Moldovan, …

Members Only  

The failsafe questions

February 1, 2014

John Conroy ensures project success by asking the right questions. “We design projects by thinking about how they could fail,” says John Conroy, owner of House of Canvas, Ottawa, Ont., Canada. “By considering all the things that could possibly go wrong, before even starting the project, we minimize surprises.” While in high school, Conroy began …

Members Only  

Smart—and comfortable—clothes

Wearable technology requires pairing reliable functionality with a comfortable garment. What if a person’s heart rate, respiration and body mechanics could be monitored during various activities without being observed in person or via video feeds? What if that data could be collected and evaluated remotely? Dr. Tom Martin, co-director of the Electronic Textiles Lab at …

Members Only  

Solutions in motion

January 1, 2014

 “Make your customers remember you. Make them laugh—but don’t be a salesman,” says Andy Moon, CEO of Baraboo Tent & Awning, Baraboo, Wis. “It’s your presence that makes an impression. Be a problem solver and help your customers out.” Moon grew up in and around the custom awning, canopy and marine business, in a company …